Stating that its vote must be based on the current winery ordinance — and not possible revisions — the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to allow Kapiniaris Vineyards to construct a winery on Davis Road, just south of Turner Road.
Winery owner David Lucas and neighboring property owners Fred Donald and Craig Miller filed an appeal in November, hoping that the Board of Supervisors would overturn the county Planning Commission's approval.
The board denied the neighbors' appeal, which allows Gus and Frank Kapiniaris to move forward with their winery west of Lodi.
The neighbors disputing the application said they don't oppose a winery, but they do oppose live entertainment — especially loud music — and the traffic that event-centered wineries generate.
Donald referred to the project several times as "an event center cleverly disguised as a winery."
Supervisors acknowledged that the county's ordinance governing permitted uses for wineries needs to be updated since the ordinance was adopted in 2000, but they said they needed to focus on the current ordinance regarding the Kapiniaris project.
Supervisor Ken Vogel, whose district includes the Davis-Turner road area, voted against the winery, saying he is concerned about noise and traffic.
Kapiniaris consultant Vern Vierra said after Tuesday's meeting that groundbreaking could start within 30 days, with the first winery event scheduled for the spring of 2013.
Meanwhile, Vogel and board chairman Steve Bestolarides said they will informally meet with area vintners, members of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau and other interested parties to recommend possible short-term changes to the winery ordinance. Bestolarides said he hopes to return to the full board with recommendations in two months.
However, the winery ordinance as a whole may take 18 months to complete because work won't begin until after the Board of Supervisors adopts its new general plan governing land use in the county later this year.
The major issue is whether the main purpose of wineries is to produce and sell wine, or to have concerts, weddings and other events in which wine is served.
Neighboring property owners objected to what they fear will be excessively loud music — complete with amplifiers — too much traffic and people trespassing on their property to park while visiting the Kapiniaris winery.
Neighbors said there is already more than enough traffic from events at nearby Lucas Winery, Abundance Vineyards and Jessie's Grove Winery.
Jessie's Grove on Turner Road, for example, is busy with concerts, summer children's theater, fundraisers, bike races and mud runs along with wine tasting and winemaker boot camps. Most of the events are during the summer.
Lucas disputed the county Public Works Department's assertion that there is no traffic issue in the Davis-Turner road area. Lucas said that 40 vehicles can be backed up at 10 p.m. on Saturdays at the Davis-Turner intersection. Public works employees aren't in the area on weekends to observe that kind of traffic, he added.
Donald, Miller and Lucas called for a moratorium on approving the Kapiniaris and all future winery applications until the winery ordinance is revised.
However, Stockton land-use attorney Mike Hakeem, representing the Kapiniaris family, argued that the board couldn't issue a moratorium because there hasn't been any public notice about a possible moratorium. That would have a big effect on the business community, Hakeem said.
"Are they in compliance today — now?" Hakeem asked. "The answer is yes."
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.